Andrew Tallman wrote a fantastic blog post
about Morality, Grace and the difficulty of it all. Indeed the hardest thing about following Christ is NOT to follow the rules, but to emulate God's Grace towards us. Here is the post in it's entirety.
Grace. It's hard.
----One of the most common criticisms of Christianity is that it is an “easy way out” of the frustrating reality that life is painful and difficult. Christians, so the argument goes, buy into a fairy tale because they’re too strong to handle the truth. It’s a criticism that goes back at least as far as Nietzsche.
In response, Christians have often said that Christianity is anything but easy. “Restrain your lust, restrain your anger, restrain your greed, restrain your pride? These are easy things? Wouldn’t it be easier to deny God and yield to our impulses?” Though this reply is on target toward the objection, I worry that it misidentifies what is truly challenging about Christianity, especially since these requirements are common to all major religions.
See, although moral purity is difficult, moral purity isn’t the hardest thing about obeying Jesus. The hardest thing is emulating God’s ridiculous, foolish, impractical grace: forgiving enemies, giving to people who have behaved stupidly, and putting your own welfare at risk for those who won’t appreciate it.
These commands aren’t just hard, they’re downright irrational, which is why we don’t do them. In truth, we all secretly believe that these most distinctive characteristics of God are actually ridiculous and embarrassing, a judgment we share with Jonah, the Pharisees, and the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal sons. Hence, the real mark of Christian obedience isn’t personal moral purity, but a life which imitates the absurd grace of God. That’s why real Christian repentance must begin here, not with those other sins.
One of my favorite movies is 'The Matrix'. In one milestone scene, Morpheus (the mentor) offers a clear choice to Neo (the disciple). The choice is offered in the form of a blue or red pill.
What's the relationship with Grace ? Well, I clearly had a choice. To do it on my own (the blue pill) or to give in to Grace. I've often thought of discovering Grace as me finally taking the red pill... and now I am experimenting just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Grace. It's the red pill.
I did not know Him
Was doing it all on my own
Money, pleasure, power, glory
Had it all
The more balls the merrier
All for the applause of the crowd
He met me and I met Him
I loved Him and knew Him
He took all my balls away
They were never mine
He gave me just two: Grace and Truth
All for the applause of heaven
I grew tired of just those two
Heaven's applause was too faint
Stooped to pick up some old broken balls
Started taking more balls
And more balls
All for the applause of the new crowd
He made me fall
And the balls I had taken, broke on me
I cried for help
The new crowd mostly left
He, with a few real friends, helped me up
He cleaned me, renewed me
I had nothing left, save for two balls: Grace and Truth
I had been led to the end of me
To lean on Him and depend on Him
All for His applause
-- Grace Guy
When Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, a church ridden with problems, he started out by 'giving thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus'. (1 Cor 1:4)
It was important to him, before going into the moral and theological issues of the church, to establish an important foundation:
Grace is the source of my thanksgiving.
When I have nothing to give thanks for, there will always be Grace. When there is no reason for me to look up, there will always be Grace. When all I can see are my problems, my failures, my needs, my wants, there will always be Grace.
And so I am reminded of Mary Fairchild's Thanksgiving poem. May it make me more appreciative of Grace.
Heavenly Father, on Thanksgiving Day
We bow our hearts to You and pray.
We give You thanks for all You've done
Especially for the gift of Jesus, Your Son.
For beauty in nature, Your glory we see
For joy and health, friends and family,
For daily provision, Your mercy and care
These are the blessings You graciously share.
So today we offer this response of praise
With a promise to follow You all of our days.
-- Mary Fairchild
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, made a commencement speech adress where he stated that we are what we choose. He then went on to ask the students about the future choices they will make. These were his questions, and notice how the theme of graceful choices keeps coming up.
How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
- Jeff Bezos
- Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
- Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
- Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
- Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
- Will you bluff it out when you're wrong, or will you apologize?
- Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
- Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
- When it's tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
- Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
- Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
Grace, it's a choice.
The following are concrete actions that demonstrate Grace and Love in the workplace (taken from a blog post untitled 'Leadership of Love'). May it inspire me to show Grace in the workplace.
- Asking questions
- Feed forward (not feedback)
- Sharing information
- Being transparent
- Prizing - finding what's right first, then suggesting what can be improved
- Reframing challenges as learning opportunities
- Supporting others
- Using humor in a positive way
- Engaging others opinions
- Communicating in a clear and caring way
- Taking accountability
- Encouraging top down innovation
- Investing in growing others
- Celebrating wins together
- Cheering on personal growth
- Setting clear boundaries
- Presenting challenges
- Encouraging self care
Grace. It's in the actions in the workplace.